Sunday, May 31, 2015

Madness Takes Its Toll!

So like I said last week, Vicki and Judd are experiencing the worst suffering ever to befall mankind: having to drive around a burning hellscape in the type of vehicle favored by dirty hippies. Yeah, there's a reason I have no problem picturing both Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins driving around in a vehicle with Truck Nuts. They both seem the type to embrace a hyper-masculinity in order to compensate for feelings of inadequacy. Among other things...:waggles eyebrows: Yeah, I know, I'm a horrible person for making you picture the sex lives of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. If it's any consolation to my poor readers, I only did it because the visuals were in my head and you should know by now that I believe in spreading pain around.

So while Vicki and Judd are chugging their way through the burning hellscape, Vicki asks Judd if he's doing all this for her. Judd admits that he's partially doing it for her, but mostly for Howard and his mom. Yeah, because we all now what a great and powerful bond Judd has with Howard, so great that :record scratch:

Okay, I'm going to level with you. I said last week that I wasn't going to bother looking up Howard or trying to figure out at what point in the series DID HE AND JUDD EVEN EXCHANGE FIVE WORDS OF CONVERSATION WITH ONE ANOTHER, because I have too much worthless knowledge taking up valuable space in my brain. It's like I tell people: even though I studied Algebra in Middle School, High School, and two semesters in College, I would probably break out in a cold sweat if you asked me to solve a quadratic equation. However, if you asked me to hum the Dragon Dagger tune from Power Rangers, I'd be so on top of it. In light of my propensity to stockpile useless knowledge (and become desperate to regain it, should I forget it) and general laziness, I decided not to bother too much when it came to Howard.

But it just kept nagging at me, the question of "Did Howard ever appear in the series like Ellanjay say he did?" or "Did they just now insert him in order to pad out the series, but decided to claim he had totally appeared before but he hadn't and..." :steps outside to engage in a little scream therapy: I swear, it's stuff like this...I know Ellanjay are lazy, so lazy that calling them hacks is an insult to hacks everywhere, but still...I feel like I'm suffering from the more extreme version of laziness-induced madness as depicted in A, My Name is Alex.

In order to lessen the pain, let's make up a backstory for Howard. The beauty of this is since you know nothing about Howard and I know nothing about Howard (despite having read the damned series), we can assign whatever traits we want to him. You can give him the same haircut as the character of the same name on The Big Bang Theory. My theory is that he met Judd outside of a gay leather bar after he (Howard) was kicked out of his Hare Krishna sect for being too much of a fruitcake. Just know that if you decide to join me in the "Construct a Backstory for Howard" game, anything you come up with is true, no matter how much it contradicts anything anyone else comes up with. Therefore, Howard was also assassinated in a groghouse brawl during the 18th century while also simultaneously defeating Napoleon at Waterloo. :pauses to laugh evilly:

Okay, sorry for all that. As you probably guessed, I'm mostly indulging in this kind of incoherent ranting, because not a lot really happens in this chapter. Of course, there are attempts to build suspense, but even if I hadn't peaked ahead at the wiki and found out that three-fourths of the YTF survive, I probably still wouldn't feel anything for any of these characters. The only members of the YTF who have suffered consequences are Ryan (who is dead and no one really seems to care no matter how many times they occasionally mention his name) and Lionel (who lost an arm). Even Lionel's circumstances are debatable, given that when TurboJesus returns, this time packing heat, Lionel's arm magically regrows. So yeah, Lionel just has to put up with his handicap for a year or so. No lasting psychological scars or screaming PTSD in these books.

Anyway, Vicki and Judd go somewhere. I confess, I don't really care because Ellanjay clearly don't. Once again, showing their steadfast commitment to Death Before Showing The Reader What Actually Happened, they have Vicki narrate some more about how Judd has totally changed.

Vicki already noticed a change in the way Judd handled things. In the old days, he would have simply rushed inside without talking with anyone. He might have dismissed the idea of coming back altogether. But something had changed, and it made Vicki want to follow him inside.

Yeah, maybe it's the Howard-induced madness, but how exactly is what Judd is doing now different from what he'd done in the past? Spoiler alert: Basically Judd breaks one of the tinted windows in the building and goes inside and starts asking around about Howard. And, as you probably guessed, since Ellanjay know nothing about strategy, Judd does all this without doing the basic work that even a kindergartener would know to do: like trying to asses how many people are in the building and what kind of weapons or tech they have or even FINDING SOME COVER SO HE'LL BE PROTECTED WHILE HE BURSTS IN ON A BUNCH OF SCARED PEOPLE WHO ARE ARMED TO THE TEETH!

:deep breath: Okay, I know it is probably too much to ask Ellanjay to do any research on asymmetric or guerilla warfare. They probably subscribe to the same Rambo belief as many do on the Right that we totally could have won The Vietnam War were it not for those shiftless hippies! But what I'm talking about, I don't even think it falls under the category of asymmetric warfare; it's more like basic common sense: you should assess the situation before charging in, unless you like having multiple bullet wounds.

Oh and BTW, I'm not kidding about the whole "armed to the teeth" thing. As Vicki and Judd break in, it is established that the people inside are armed. Though they never actually use those weapons, even though they're freaking terrified and OUTSIDERS ARE BURSTING IN WITHOUT BOTHERING WITH SO MUCH AS A HELLO!

The people inside are established as wearing GC uniforms and are justifiably freaked out by Judd and Vicki walking around unharmed by the killer sunlight. Somehow even though one side has greater numbers and weapons (no points for guessing which side), it's that side that is all trembling and freaked out, begging them not to hurt them. Judd even manages to get them to hand over their guns, something which makes me headdesk. Yeah, I'm going to assume this is some kind of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge scenario in that Judd and Vicki were shot full of lead as they entered and that all the derring-do afterwards, are fantasies they're having as their blood pours out on the floor around them. Though I suppose, I could stretch and somehow make the case that they actually died in disasters related to the Rapture and everything is a fantasy as they slowly die a distinctly unheroic death, but that may be going too far. Just know that no matter how much Ellanjay assert that Judd has totally changed!, I will continue to believe that if the Rapture hadn't happened, Judd probably would have gotten over his adolescence rebellion and wound up exactly like his parents anyway.

Anyway, they find Howard, who does have the Zod-Mark, so at least we're spared one repeat of the Overly Long Conversion Scene. At some point, gunfire breaks out, even though I thought Judd and Vicki took the GC's guns, but they all make it back to the Hippiemobile, but not before a display of the Sociopathic Behavior that has become the trademark in this series.

The car’s tires spun on the lawn when Judd pulled away. Vicki looked back to make sure no one was following them and noticed more smoke. Judd slowed long enough to see the roof of the library begin to curl. Windows on the upper floor of the building shattered, and smoke billowed. Vicki put her window down a little, then rolled it up when she heard people inside screaming.


Yeah, it's like I said before, the Christian Right can assert all they like how they're totally heirs to the legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but I have a feeling that if they were somehow dropped at a village a few miles down from Auschwitz in the years between 1940-1945, the extent of their activism would involve praying that all those Jews somehow became good RTCs before being gassed, while complaining about the odor produced by the crematoriums.

I know, someone's going to call on my for invoking Godwin's Law, but I feel it's justified, given the Right's propensity for invoking Godwin's Law regarding any attempt to curtail their ability to get away with being hateful bigots without facing any consequences (legal or financial) for it.

My main objection, regarding Hitler analogies, is that, y'know, there are other hateful dictators just in the 20th century alone that you can invoke. Why limit yourself to Hitler analogies? Just for once I want someone to invoke Pol Pot. I would suggest Augusto Pinochet or Idi Amin as well, but given the US's role in backing them in the first place, you can understand why those analogies will probably never catch on.

Anyway, so Judd and Vicki and Howard are speeding away, trying to catch up with Westin. Vicki asks Howard why he separated himself from the rest of the group and Howard gives this weaksauce explanation:

“Our leader told us to stay together, but I got fed up with all the rules. I went into one of those study rooms, and when I woke up the GC had moved in. I tried to slip out last night, but I got scared.”

Of course, Ellanjay never bothers to explain just which of the rules Howard objected to, because that would actually provide insight into his character. Plus, if they gave Howard a legitimate complaint, they would be force to admit that :gasp: :choke: sometimes those at the top of their hierarchy make mistakes and they can't have that! So in order to liven up this story and keep this "Construct a Backstory for Howard" game going, I'm going to just assume that Howard's diamond-studded codpiece was making the other members of the group feel inadequate in comparison. And by codpiece, I mean this Codpiece.

I suppose I should apologize for foisting that link on you, but I don't think I will.

Judd, being a good RTC who knows that if you ever disagree with the RTC hierarchy, it means that you are wrong, says, "You should have listened to your leader."

Judd picks up his cell phone to call Westin, but the call doesn't go through. Howard then says something that makes me want to do The Invasion of the Body-Snatchers Scream. He says that a lot of the cell phone towers are down, making it difficult for calls to go through. But that can't be right! Ellanjay have demonstrated that cell phones require no infrastructure to maintain and will never go down no matter how many Acts of God occur back to back. So why aren't they working now?!

My guess is either somebody clued Ellanjay in that cell phones, y'know, need towers and an infrastructure to maintain their service, but given how thoroughly they've surrounded themselves with Yes Men, inside a nice criticism-proof bubble, I'll think it's unlikely that someone would venture to tell them that. So I'll once again open the floor to outlandish theories. Mine is either Howard has a jammer on him or that since I see him as basically Florida Man on steroids, I'm going to assume that Howard is Inevitable. He is the Heat Death and the Entropy of the Universe, He is the End to All Things.

Yeah, I know I've beat this joke into the ground, but consider it a combination of trying to keep the madness somewhat at bay and create a more interesting story.

The sun is fading and since, the GC can only move at night, Judd and Vicki and Howard are forced to take shelter in a parking garage, feasting on some sandwiches and candy bars that somehow weren't burned up or melted by all the heat.

The chapter ends with Howard bowing his head and doing the obligatory "O God, thank you for sending these Main Characters to save my life. Please forgive me for being so hard-headed as to think of myself as a person with thoughts and agency like everyone else. And please let Vicki and Judd make it back to their friends safely, seeing that as Main Characters, their lives matter above all others in this universe."

I admit that I am exaggerating Howard's prayer for comedic effect, but really it's not by much. I often wonder if when Ellanjay will a new character into being, they give said character, a name, a half-filled outline, and of course, they make sure that every character knows that their duty is to serve as a backdrop for the exciting adventures of St. Rayford and Our Buck. And that they can never hope to have any adventures or goals apart from the Main Cast. Because having a desire to do anything beyond rack up converts and sit and wait for TurboJesus to come in on air support, is sick and wrong.

And that's it for this week. I read ahead and they do have a chapter where Howard finally tells us about himself, allowing Ellanjay to do the obligatory "How I came to Love Big Brother" speech. As you guessed, their backstory for Howard is considerably less interesting than any of the ones I've come up with, so I'm going to stick with my version. Because I am totally in favor of Discontinuity, especially when the Canon is so awful, like it is in this series.

And now I'm going to close us out with some tangentially related music.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Blast their Hopes and Blight their Lives!

Like I mentioned last week, what we have to look forward to this week, is basically like I said a spin-the-wheels action scene put in, probably to both pad out the series so the writers can become even more disgustingly rich, and to again, convince us that the heroes really are being heroic and martyrrific and suffering at the End of the World. Of course, it would work a lot better if the heroes actually did anything besides talk and if they actually showed any ounce of horror or compassion at the scene before them, but yeah...As said before, by both Fred and I, Ellanjay are basically Jonah in that they preach the gospel, not because they genuinely want people to become Christians and turn from their wicked ways and whatnot, but because they want to get to witness the brutes get exterminated firsthand. As horrible as this outlook is, it does work out well for them, allowing them to indulge their natural sloth (the sin, not the tree-dwelling creature) while making huge amounts of money, which appeals to their greed. Plus, if they put forth the effort, showed just how horrible the Apocalypse would be, and had every character suffering massively from PTSD, the readers may start asking all the wrong questions, which would lead to problems.

Anyway, if I'm fast-forwarding or summarizing a lot, it's because all they do is talk. :whimpers: Basically Westin is their pilot and is flying them to San Diego. And I still don't know why Judd and Vicki are going to San Diego or what they're going to do in San Diego or what they hope to accomplish there. That's some fantastic writing there.

I reread the last page of the previous chapter, hoping for some clues, but I am still confused. Apparently there's this group that has holed up in a library and requested help from the Tribbles, but the adult Tribbles don't know where they are. There's some mention about how Judd had stayed with them in the past, but in all honesty, the only thought in my head regarding all this is, "Huh?" That and "I should care, why?!" Once again, I'm wondering if the version I got is missing pages or something.

Anyway, like I said, all they do is talk, Westin saying he's sorry to hear about Lionel's arm and all that. The only real notable part is when Westin starts talking about Z-Van. As many will recall, I have certain affection for Z-Van, given that he's one of the few who calls the Tribbles on their bullshit, which is always a good thing in my book. Plus, given the way they talk about him...never fails to amuse me, how no matter how much they try to convince us that they're totally down with people and have their fingers on the pulse of today's youth, they always remain several decades behind. They probably still preach about how eeeevil Alice Cooper is, despite the fact that Alice Cooper is a golf-playing, Republican-voting, born-again Christian. Like I said, there's a reason I picture Z-Van as looking like Madonna Dahmer.

Anyway, the extent of the conversation is that Z-Van was doing a concert when God decided to kill everybody with the sun. And if you guessed that Westin talks dispassionately reports on what happens like he just witnessed someone stub their toe, rather than a MASSIVE CROWD OF PEOPLE BURN ALIVE! Again, congratulations on being familiar with Ellanjay. And because I believe in spreading pain around, I'm going to post a snippet of the conversation:

“One of those miracle workers came onstage and tried to calm the crowd. He was wearing a long, black robe and had a lapel microphone on. The speakers started crackling and popping like something was wrong with the lines, but when I looked closer, it was the miracle guy with flames licking at his outfit. He ran screaming to the back with the rest of the band members.”

“You think Z-Van survived?” Judd said.

“The GC hasn’t said he’s dead, but they also didn’t report anything about the concert. There must have been thousands on the ground, their bodies just piles of ashes. The stage, lights, all their instruments—everything went up in smoke.”

As they flew, Westin told them the other things he had experienced while flying for the Co-op. Judd was amazed at all God had accomplished through this man he and Lionel had reached out to.

It's times like this, I think of the Book of Job. The belief of many scholars now is that Job wasn't an actual person, but that the whole book is an allegorical tale, an ancient writer's attempt to try to solve the problem has vexed and probably will continue to vex religion throughout history: the problem known as Theodicy. You can argue about whether the writer succeeded in his goals, but whether he did or not, at least he shows more compassion to the very real suffering Job is going through.

Whereas, yeah, Ellanjay would be perfectly cast as any of Job's three friends: Bildad, Eliphaz, or Zophar. Remember they believe that the book should be entitled "When Bad Things Happen to Bad People Who Deserve It." You also wonder just how well Tim LaHaye does as a preacher, given that a large part of the job involves comforting people going through bad times. Especially since he probably disagrees with that irritating verse about how it rains on the just and unjust alike.

For them, God is their personal holy concierge/strongman and if anything bad happens to you for any reason, they'd probably expect you to look inward and see if it's the result of some sin you haven't properly confessed or atoned for.

Anyway, as a palate cleanser, here's a link to ako's Children of the Goats. Still saddens me that the story will never be continued or finished, but what can you do? Unless you know ako's address and where I can get Chloroform on the cheap. ;)

Anyway they talk some more and Westin hands Judd the note sent by the San Diego group. I'd talk about the note, but the contents do nothing to alleviate my confusion. The group says something about how Judd helped them in the past and told them to contact them if they were in any danger. While I suppose if I were to reread the series, I could figure out when exactly Judd was in San Diego and who the hell he helped, but I'm lazy and I already have entirely too much brain space devoted to this series. Besides, all the endless travelogues have proved over and over again that no matter where you take Judd, even if it's to some of the most holy sites in Christendom, he will pass by them without seeing or feeling anything worth noting. It doesn't matter if he's finds himself in a 7-11 or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

:sighs: I know people (myself included) label Ellanjay as hacks, but I'm starting to feel that's unfair to hacks. While hacks may only possess rudimentary knowledge of the craft, that's still more than Ellanjay. More and more, I keep wishing Dan Brown was writing this series. Yeah, it would still suck and have all the problems inherent in Dan Brown's writings, but at least there would be a sense of fun to the whole affair. Plus, even he'd know there are times when the he flings the characters from one exotic locale to another, that he needs to pause and let the readers see what the characters are seeing.

Judd's section ends and we hear from Judd-with-Boobs aka Vicki. Vicki, being the compassionate RTC she is, looks out the window at the ruined landscape at all the burned-up buildings/vehicles. In addition to all this, apparently thanks to the Wrath of the Lamb quake (aka that disaster that happened in one of the earlier books, but I'm too lazy to look up exactly when), has caused massive flooding and destroyed many coastal cities.

I could point out how Vicki is, like a true RTC, focusing solely on the destruction of property, but that's not entirely accurate. At the end of the paragraph, it says she feels really bad for the Followers of Carpathia. Not bad enough to do anything besides wring her hands and think nice thoughts and certainly not bad enough not to think of how this sun plague makes it so much easier for RTCs to travel, but it's something. I'd make a remark about Vicki being a sociopathic asshole, but like I've said in other peoples' snarks, the word "asshole" feels piddling and inadequate when it comes to characters like these. An asshole is someone who keys your car because he/she can't stand you driving a nicer car than him/her. A character from this series, they're the type who would drop a nuke on your car, if they saw you driving a nicer car than them. After which, they'd smile and laugh as everyone is either vaporized or dies slowly from radiation poisoning.

On a semi-related note, here's a link There really aren't enough trigger warnings in the world for that horrifying clip. But the real horrifying part is that for all their chest-pounding and bluster about how we should nuke Iran/anyone who looks at us funny, they would be horribly offended if you actually showed the consequences of their actions. I mean, all those kids getting vaporized and dying with their guts hanging out? It really hurts their delicate sensibilities.

I'm starting to think in addition to a previous idea I had, about how we should publish leather-bound editions of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, we should also make syrupy inspirational posters, only rather than putting the "Footprints" poem, we put in a selection from Mark Twain's The War Prayer.

This get-rich-quick scheme might actually be more practical than my previous selection, because unlike Atlas Shrugged, The War Prayer is probably in the public domain, so I wouldn't have to worry about Copyright Infringement.

I know, I'm being too damn wordy/ranty about a chapter in which nothing happens, but it's my blog, so I'll rant if I want to! Besides, I feel another quote is needed.

“Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth into battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it —

For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimmage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

As they land and get out of the plane, Vicki notices an eerie silence, the only sound being the cackles of flames (and probably the shrieks of the dying, but Ellanjay forget that detail). It's only a cursory mention and yes, I do wish they'd go into this further, but it's one of the few details that actually works in this chapter. Because one of the things people who have toured Ghost Towns talk about is the unnerving silences of those places, the kind of silence you can only get when there are no people or working machines around for miles.

They find a bus for handicapped/disabled children that hasn't been burned up and decide to use it to get to the library. I've wondered in previous posts how Zod knows which vehicles/buildings belong to RTCs and therefore, he shouldn't burninate them. I wondered if you could escape the burninating by plastering your bumper with Jesus fish or if God checks the registration in the glove box, before sending down hellfire, but at the same time, how does he know that the owner didn't just help himself to an RTC's Porsche following the Rapture or the umpteenth Wrath-of-God plague? As stupid as it sounds, at least, regarding the people, I somewhat understand, what with this whole Zodmark, Nicky-Mark business but still.

I could also point out that said bus probably belongs to one of those eeevil secular public schools, further making me question why it didn't burn up.

Anyway, they finally get to the library and meet up with people. If you thought that would clear things up, think again. Ellanjay stubbornly refuse to give the names of the people seeking the Tribbles' help.

The Nameless San Diego Believers (I really need to come up with a shorter name for them.) talk about how GC officers and ordinary citizens have taken refuge on some of the lower levels. And if you guessed that the Believers have stubbornly refused to go and witness to the citizens in hopes of possibly saving their souls, again, congratulations. Because like I said, there's really no reason for them to hesitate. Death is win-win all around for RTCs in this series. They know heaven is real and that if they die, they will get to spend the Apocalypse bathing in the light of the undying lands, while everyone else suffers. Plus in dying as martyrs at the hands of the GC, they get perks that other believers don't.

In addition to wondering why they don't just preach in front of the GC every chance they can, I sometimes wonder why RTCs don't just say The Prayer, ask God for forgiveness, then shoot themselves, so as to get this all over with. After all, if pressed, most RTCs will admit that they believe that no sign, not even suicide, separates a person from God, so long as they confess it before God and ask for forgiveness.

So they load up the bus with all the RTCs, but just as they're getting the last one on board, one of them, given the sole descriptor of a woman in her forties, refuses to get on board, saying that her son Howard isn't there. Apparently Howard was some guy who Judd argued with the last time they met, but like I said, I'm too lazy to go to the trouble of digging through all the past books to figure out when. If anyone else wants to, be my guest, but I've devoted too much neuron space to this series as is.

Judd, in a rare show of compassion, promises the woman that he and Vicki will go looking for her son, telling Westin to take off if they haven't returned in an hour. One of the Nameless gives Judd the keys to his Volkswagen Beetle. So for all you naysayers like me, who keep ranting about how all the suffering is off-stage and that the Apocalypse seems no more worse than stubbing your toe, fear not. Judd and Vicki are suffering, what with being forced to drive around in an old hippie car. Again there can be no greater suffering as the opening paragraph of the next chapter shows:

THE CAR sputtered and coughed when Judd turned the key. The Volkswagen wasn’t just old—it was ancient, with rust spots on the body, balding tires, and an inch of dust. Vicki coughed as she jumped in the passenger seat. Judd tried to start the engine again, but it wheezed and shook.

If you're wondering, I'm not breaking my one-chapter-snark trend this week; I just put in that paragraph because I felt you should know just how awful Judd and Vicki have it, being forced to ride around a burning hellscape in an old, broken-down car favored by dirty hippies, as opposed to Buck's Top of the Line gas-guzzling penis-extender Range Rover.

And that's it. Again, I really thought this would be the week I'd break the one-chapter-snark thing I've had going, but I had more to say than I thought. Again, I wonder if this is a case of the books just keep getting worse and worse or if this is a case that my snark skills have improved to the point where I can make good hay out of just one chapter. It may be one of those questions we'll never know the answer to.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Problem of Nicky or Welcome to the Linksapalooza Extravaganza!

Hi everybody! Well I'm pleased to note that, I won't have a need to use the word "asshole" until it loses all meaning again. Bad news, yeah, it's kind of dull. But you think this week's boring, guess what we have to look forward to next week. If you guessed a spinning-the-wheels-type action scene put in as a futile effort to convince us that the heroes are actually being heroic and not just cooling their heels until TurboJesus takes out all those sinful sinners for them, again, congratulations on being familiar with Ellanjay tropes. Like I said, I really wish there were some perks that came with this. A blue ribbon or even a lousy t-shirt would be nice.

This week's selection begins with a Lionel perspective. And I've got to give Lionel a few words of advice, before plunging into the snark. And my advice is: enjoy being onscreen while it lasts, because next week, whatever wormhole is after you, will suck you up again and you'll go back into some weird netherworld without anyone seeming to know or care that you've been missing for God-only-knows how many chapters. It goes without saying, but your friends suck. If I was still doing polls, I'd ask whether you'd taken up the mantle of Butt Monkey in the kids version of Left Behind (seeing as the previous titleholder is dead), or whether Ryan's Butt Monkey status transcends the grave and the laws of time and space as well. Ships may sink, cities may fall, but Ryan will always be the Butt Monkey of the LB-verse. If he had lived long enough to grow up, he'd be Ted from Scrubs.

Lionel spends his section talking with Zeke. Once again, Ellanjay try to convince us that character development is actually taking place, by having a character talk about it, rather than putting in the effort to show it. I'd say they're going from A to Q without showing us any of the steps in between, that they're just shouting "Q!" and hoping we don't notice, but even just shouting "Q!" would still involve more effort than what we actually get.

Zeke volunteered to stay at the computer with Lionel, and they had a good talk. “Must be kind of hard for you with all the excitement over Judd and Vicki.”

“I expected it,” Lionel said. “I don’t know which was harder, running from the GC these last few years or keeping up with Judd’s love life.”

Yeah, Judd's love life has really been exciting, the kind of excitement only found in a James Bond movie. I mean just look at the nonstop action/sex he's had...Okay, I think I've been sarcastic enough. Probably could have made my point in a more concise matter if I just posted a link to this gif.

Judd wrote the book on love. They called it All Quiet on the Western Front.

Okay, sorry for that joke. As an act of penance, I'll follow it with a Statler and Waldorf clip because that's what you should do when you make such an obvious, corny joke.

But seriously, outside his Obligatory Love Interest, the only girl that seems to have caused a stirring in Judd's Ken Doll undercarriage is Nada and as I recall, Judd did the "I'm dumping you for Godly reasons" shtick with her. After which, Nada died, leaving him free to pursue Vicki.

I suppose I should stop posting links to Metatron from "Dogma," because I really need to stop running a joke into the ground, but again, even Alan Rickman as a sexless angel is still had more charisma/animal magnetism than Judd. A chair has more charisma/animal magnetism that Judd!

Lionel then goes through the Obligatory Litany of Deaths where he lists everyone he knows who has died aka Ellanjay's futile attempt to convince us that the characters really are suffering. If you guessed when reciting the litany, he leaves off Ryan, again, congratulations on being familiar with Ellanjay tropes. Were it not for the fact that Ryan, after being saved, promptly forgot about his unsaved parents (we weren't given much insight into them, but chances are they were decent people, as opposed to Adolf Q. Stalin-Pot), I'd feel sorry for him.

Lionel does admit that he still doesn't understand why he lost his arm, but takes comfort in the fact that God is still working. And we get this paragraph:

Lionel nodded. “I guess that’s one thing that changed while I was away. Before the Rapture, I thought about God in terms of him being way out there and us down here trying to do stuff for him. When I became a true believer, I realized he wanted to be with us, helping us. But I still thought living for God meant doing stuff for him, trying to convince people he’s there and he loves them. All the pressure was on me to perform, you know? If somebody didn’t become a believer, I felt responsible, like it was my fault.”

Fred Clark already touched on this in the post where Rayford mansplains about Abortion, but if anyone still had any doubt that RTCs view spreading the Gospel as less of "beggar telling another beggar where they found bread" and more like the Spanish Requirement of 1513, that paragraph should have put all doubts to rest. Because their mindset is very similar to that of the Spanish Conquistadores: it doesn't matter how half-hearted or half-assed your preaching is or even if the people you're preaching it to understood what the hell you were talking about (it never seemed to occur to the Spanish Conquistadores that the inhabitants of a continent thousands of miles from theirs, might not understand Spanish), so long as you've done the bare minimum, you're off the hook and therefore, you can't be held responsible if those heathens die horribly and burn in hell for all eternity.

Lionel further proves my conclusions correct by saying that "I know I need to reach out as much as I can, but the past few years have taught me this is God’s battle. He’s the one drawing people to himself and fighting the enemy. If I talk with someone and they don’t become a believer, I feel sad, but I don’t feel guilty. God really is in control.”

Yeah, the Christian Right loves to talk about how they're totally the heirs to Bonhoeffer, but you just know that if they were dropped in a Polish village just down the road from Auschwitz, at some time between the years May 1940-January 1945, their response would probably be to distribute the World War II equivalent of this Jack Chick tract. Or they'd work towards rallying the Polish people to vote Republican in hopes that a Republican President will someday down the line appoint judges who will someday overturn all those nasty Nuremburg Laws.

We do get a semi-decent passage where Lionel talks about how he sometimes forgets that his left arm is gone and will reach for stuff with it and sometimes experiences phantom limb pain. But like everything else, that is quickly brushed aside. Besides, Zeke has a present for him.

Zeke walked to a storage closet and pulled out a box. He laid it at Lionel’s feet.

Lionel gasped when he opened the lid. Inside was a plastic replica of the lower portion of his arm. “How did you—”

“As soon as I heard what happened, I went looking on the Internet and through our sources at the Co-op for what they call prosthetic devices. Then I realized I had most of the materials right here, so I went to work. The hard part was making a mold for the plastic. I must have tried a dozen times before it came out right. Go ahead— try it out.”

I suppose I could ask where exactly did Zeke magic up the materials needed to make a mold. I'm guessing as for the plastic, he probably could have just helped himself to some abandoned whatchamacallits, but my main quibble is that something someone jury-rigged together out of melted Tupperware or whatever, probably wouldn't be very helpful as a prosthetic. About all something like that would accomplish is, that maybe this way Lionel wouldn't have to fold or cut up his left shirt sleeve. The idea of him holding anything with, just no.

But I shouldn't be too surprised. Given that Ellanjay failed to see the rise of cell phones or Internet porn becoming ubiquitous, I'll guess that it's too much to expect them to have heard of prosthetics created by 3D printers.

Lionel's section ends and he disappears off the face of the Earth, possibly becoming one of the 4400 for all I know. The next is a Vicki section but absolutely nothing happens, so let's deal with Judd.

If you guessed all that happens is Exciting!Phone Call!Action between Judd and Chang, congratulations. You should know by now that Ellanjay will take any opportunity they can to either indulge in their phone lust or tell rather than show.

Chang says that for some reason everyone's obsessed with hiding underground and escaping the sun plague, rather than just burning up like God wants them to. Okay, I admit, I am exaggerating for comedic effect, but really, it never fails how Ellanjay and their surrogate characters, are shocked that people freak out and panic whenever a horrible disaster happens rather than bending the knee and accepting Cthulhu, I mean Jesus, into their hearts.

Yeah, I'm not sure which aspect of Ellanjay's theology is worse: that they believe that Zod does all this horrible shit because he loves us and look at what you made him do! or that they genuinely believe that those brutes should kiss Zod's feet and be grateful for inflicting never-ending torment on them.

Yeah, I'd intended to just provide a necessary link, but I think a quote is needed. YMMV, though.

It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: ‘Exterminate all the brutes!’

Nicky, continuing to show more initiative and compassion than our plucky heroes, continues to keep the government running, which says a lot about the quality of his infrastructure. The fact that in the face of all this shit Nicky and his crew haven't just thrown up their hands and headed for the hills, says a lot about the kind of people they are. They're certainly demonstrating more compassion than Our Heroes, in that they continue to work and do what little they can to help their citizens.

It's basically a more extreme version of the problem of Galbatorix from Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. For those too lazy to enjoy some world-class snark that helped me hone my snarking skills, Galbatorix is the Big Bad in a crappily written YA fantasy series. As you guessed, the big problem with Galbatorix, aside from the fact that he's barely in the series despite being the main villain, is that while the characters constantly talk about how evil he is, nothing Galbatorix does can be really described as evil, unless you count raising taxes and mobilizing his forces to fight a terrorist group that poses a threat to his rule to be evil. Heck, characters in the series openly criticize him and aren't immediately dragged off in the middle of the night by the secret police or skewered, which you'd think a horrible dictator would be more likely to do.

But as bad as Paolini's series is (and it only gets more incoherent later on when he attempts several Author's Savings Throws in an attempt to quell all the jokes about his series being Star Wars in Lord of the Rings clothing), I will give him credit in that Paolini probably knows he's writing fiction and doesn't believe that his crappily written fiction will actually happen at some point in the future.

Basically, Nicky and his crew are continuing to work and in order to do so, they've painted some of the windows on the lower floors of their building black. I suppose I should quibble, ask how black paint would stop Zod from killing people with the sun or even how they even managed to successfully paint it black, but given how rarely anyone shows any intelligence, I'll allow it. I'll just tell myself that they painted them at night, when the sun was gone. BTW, is there ever an explanation given as to why the GC don't just start raiding RTC compounds once the sun's gone down? Like I said, they've got a starving, desperate populace to feed, so it wouldn't be evil of them to decide to see if they can get supplies/help from those places magically spared from the sun plague.

But y'know there's a reason Jesus said "Do not store up treasures, where Welfare Queens and the 43% will steal what is rightfully yours. Instead, place your treasures in a nice tax shelter in the Cayman Islands, so you may hold onto what is rightfully yours.

Chang talks about how Nicky went outside to sun-bathe and I suppose we're supposed to find his anecdote about how Nicky wasn't harmed by all this and afterwards said "The sun, moon, and stars bow to me," to be scary, but I believe I speak for everyone when I say, "Go, Go Nicky Mountain Range, You Mighty Morphin Nicky Mountain Range!"

Okay, I realize not everyone's into that awesome bit of nineties cheese created for the sole purpose of selling toys to sugar-high eight-year-olds, so I'll provide another clip as a service to my devoted readers: "Go Nicky Go! Nicky B Badd!"

Yeah, I know he'll eventually get punted, but I have to take Nicky's side, simply because he's so much less repugnant than our so-called heroes.

Y'know when I set out to do this week's snark, I swear I had no intention of posting so many links. It's one of those things that happens. I like to believe that it lessens the pain somewhat, but I'm not sure how well that works.

The phone conversation wraps up and Vicki and Judd talk to each other some more. I'd snark the conversation, but in all likelihood, while I know they're trying to assert that Vicki and Judd totally belong together (probably because they're both equally boring), I think a conversation between a pair of eunuchs or aged schoolmarms would generate more heat/sexual tension. It's mostly a circle-jerk anyway.

Anyway, the chapter ends with Judd finding out that he's going on another long trip overseas for no adequately explored reason, because that's how Ellanjay roll. You never know what hijinks those Wild and Crazy Kids will get into next.

As you guessed, Judd agrees to go on this trip, provided that he's allowed to take Vicki with him. I suppose it's a sweet gesture, but I find myself wondering if there isn't someone else he could take with him. Y'know someone whom he has spent several books in the same time zone with. You know that Token Minority he's spent a lot more time with than he has Vicki. I believe this goes without saying, but Lionel, your friends suck. Were it not for the fact that you were such an asshole to Ryan in the early books, I'd feel sorry for you. Instead I'll close out this post and this linksapalooza with yet another link that I feel adequately reflects the problem of Lionel. I admit that theme is nowhere near as awesome as the Rockapella version, but I think we can all agree that Lionel is not worthy of the Rockapella version.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Judd is a Ghoul

Yeah, I know, two posts in the same week. Just consider it a nice treat on my part. Or you can consider it as proof of my belief in "Misery Loves Company." Make of it what you will.

As though aware of their status as NPCs (whereas Judd is a Main Character), everyone throws a big huge party to welcome him and to a lesser extent, Lionel, back.

It's really a dull scene. Before Judd and Vicki go off alone to talk, there is a weird moment where Zeke does some Alpha-Male posturing about how as Vicki's substitute dad, he has to make sure Judd's intentions are noble. I could make the obvious statement by pointing out that Vicki is a nineteen (according to previous chapters which said five years had passed) and is by anyone's definition, a legal adult capable of screening guys on her own, but given Ellanjay's dim view of women and the fact they probably have the same mentality as the people who host/attend Purity Balls... I don't really need to say anymore, do I?

I know, I should probably stop posting that clip about Purity Balls, but I just can't help it. It never stops amusing me how everyone involved, fails to see just how freaking creepy they are. Especially the father who says to his daughter, "Anybody who wants to date you has to go through me first."

Judd convinces Zeke that his intentions are honorable and he and Vicki go off together, which is kind of racy when you think about it. Given that RTCs somehow believe that two people of the opposite sex can't be alone or even :gasp: hold hands or kiss without immediately jumping each other's bones...I'm surprised that there aren't a few scandalized RTCs decrying Ellanjay for trying to corrupt our youth by having this long passage where two single nubile adults of the opposite sex (Vicki is nineteen and Judd is twenty-one) :gasp: :choke: hang out together and talk to each other without a chaperone present.

I'd suggest that maybe they're not worried because Judd is as anatomically impaired as a Ken doll but that just feels like an insult to Metatron somehow. Even he demonstrates more of a sexual drive than Judd ever does.

Anyway, so Vicki and Judd go off together and Ellanjay try their hand at doing some description of the scenery. As always, they fail to realize that the whole world should look like Hiroshima, circa August 6, 1945, but it's so rare that they put forth any effort at all that I actually welcome descriptive passages, however badly they may suck.

When they had seen all the cabins, Vicki led Judd through the woods a short distance to a knoll overlooking the camp and the surrounding countryside. It seemed like years since Judd had been outside in daylight and he loved it, even if the devastating fires still raged. Smoke hovered over the valley, and in the distance Judd saw houses and farms ablaze.

The fire hadn’t touched the woods surrounding the camp, and Judd was amazed. Like the other plagues, this could only be explained by the awesome power of God.

I can go on about the characters' sociopathy but I've done it so many times. Plus, I want to save my angry ranting for a later part of this chapter.

Most of my quibbles involve, "Okay, so how is it that the GC aren't immediately storming their camp come nightfall? Obviously if they still have Internet (and they do, because heaven forbid the characters suffer), then they still have satellites and you'd think that if the whole world looks like Hiroshima, after the bomb went off, except the damage conveniently stops at this one spot that's still all green and vibrant like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting or something (even though all the poisoned water should have killed off all plants and animals), you'd think the GC would want to check it out. Not necessarily because they'll immediately make the connection that the camp is full of RTCs, but because THEY HAVE A DESPERATE, STARVING POPULACE THAT THEY HAVE TO FEED AND SHELTER, SO OBVIOUSLY THEY'D PROBABLY WANT TO SEEK SHELTER AT THE ONE PLACE THAT HAS BEEN SPARED BY THE HORRIFIC DISASTER! THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE DO IN A CRISIS! HELP EACH OTHER OUT DESPITE DIFFERING VIEWPOINTS!

:deep breath: I know, I shouldn't be shocked by all this. I'm starting to think we have the makings of a business venture that were it not for copyright issues, could make us a lot of money. My venture is this: we make a bunch of leather-bound Bibles, complete with gold writing on the cover and pages, but instead of putting the scriptures in between, we put in the text of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Because even though Ayn Rand was :gasp: an Atheist who supported abortion, you know the Christian Right probably relates to John Galt much more than to some weird hippie who said a bunch of Islamo-Commie-Fascist BS about how we should love our enemies(rather than sic drones and cruise missiles on them) and that we should care for the poor and needy, rather than let them die in a gutter like God intended. What Christian could get behind that kind of nonsense...

On a lighter note, this is how I always see things ending, every time some idiot talks about "Going Galt."

Whew...I really hadn't intended to spend so much time on that one just kind of happened.

After Judd does his obligatory self-flagellation scene where he talks about how ashamed he was about how he treated Vicki in the past, Vicki, for some reason, asks to know more about Nada. I admit to being a little puzzled myself. After Nada was Stuffed Into the Fridge, I didn't think we'd ever hear from her again.

So Judd talks about her death and reads a letter Nada had written to him. And even though Judd had apparently been carrying this letter with him for several books, there has been no mention of it until now. Because that's the kind of writers Ellanjay are.

I would snark the letter, but there's really not much to snark. Apparently even Nada recognizes that she's basically the disposable obstacle, a minor bump in the road en route to Judd and Vicki getting married. Naturally, as par for the course in these stories, she gives Judd permission to go after Vicki.

Judd then asks Vicki about Chad Harris, who basically served the same purpose in the story as Nada. Or in other words, a speed-bump that temporarily slows the Judd and Vicki narrative arc in order to possibly build suspense, but more likely allow Ellanjay to pad things out even more.

After this talk, Vicki and Judd return to the main cabin to watch the news. This, of course, allows for more padding and exposition as they find out that Commander Kruno Fulcire isn't going to just meekly roll over and show his belly, but actively seek out and arrest those responsible for the horrific disaster. Quelle horror! This is so evil and so very different from human nature! After all, following the terrorists proving the superiority and might of their god on 9/11, we Americans did the sensible thing and converted to Islam in droves. Now you can't walk down the street without wearing a burqa or seeing someone being stoned for adultery.

Of course, this announcement causes the Tribbles to make a bunch of "Yeah rights" with a few eyerolls as well.

Anyway, the chapter ends with Judd walking Vicki back to her cabin at night. And here's where we come to that part that made me see red and wish I knew more variations on the F-Bomb. I admit, the passage in question seems innocuous at first, but it doesn't take long to see why it makes me see red, once I point out a few pertinent facts.

Judd pulled out a small package and Vicki gasped. “I ran short on wrapping paper,” Judd said.

Vicki unwrapped the newspaper and opened the box slowly. Shelly peeked out the cabin door, then closed it. Vicki heard snickers from inside, and Judd blushed.

“When we moved from Indiana to Ohio, we met a doctor who treated Lionel’s arm. His wife had disappeared in the Rapture, and he’d kept this ever since he found it on her pillow.”

Inside the box was a beautiful gold chain with a heartshaped pendant. A diamond sparkled in the middle. Judd turned the heart around and pointed at elegant writing on the back that said Ich Liebe Dich.

“What’s that mean?”

“The doctor said it’s German for ‘I love you.’ He had studied in Germany and brought that back as an engagement gift for his wife. When I told him our story, he wanted me to give it to you.” Judd took the necklace from the box and fastened it around Vicki’s neck.

If you're wondering why this passage makes me see red, it's because if you actually paid attention to what came before, than the doctor Judd mentions, can only refer to Dr. Rose. AKA THAT GUY WHO WENT OUT OF HIS WAY TO HELP BOTH JUDD AND LIONEL DESPITE HAVING THE MARK, WHICH ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN THEOLOGY, MEANS THAT HE'S DAMNED FOR ALL ETERNITY!

As if that isn't horrifying enough, if you clicked on the link I posted, Dr. Rose ends up committing suicide and since he never mentioned or showed said necklace to Judd or offered to let him have it, that means Judd's response, upon hearing the gunshots, WAS TO START PAWING THROUGH THE GOOD DOCTOR'S JEWELRY AND POSSESSIONS LIKE THE FUCKING GHOUL THAT HE IS, IN HOPES OF FINDING SOMETHING THAT WILL GET HIM IN VICKI'S PANTS! I HATE YOU, JUDD! I HATE YOU SO MUCH!

:deep breath:

I suppose in the greater scheme of things, this bit of sociopathic behavior is kind of mild, compared with some of the other things these characters have done, but I still it's definitely worth more than it's share of "Good Lords." It's crap like this that makes me continue to believe in Discontinuity. Because the fact that a basically good person, who went out of his way to help out Judd and Lionel even though it could have ended very badly for him if he had been caught, is damned for all eternity, while Judd, who has never done anything for anyone without any ulterior motive (yes, being nice to people in hopes of racking up another convert and getting brownie points from God, does count as having an ulterior motive) gets to shrug his shoulders and help himself to the guy's cherished possessions...that's why I insist that Dr. Rose isn't dead. He fired a gun into the ceiling or the floor or something and he's run off to meet up with Taylor and Hasina, who also aren't dead. Together, with help from Joel (aka the guy who took the Mark in order to keep himself and his brother from starving to death), they'll gather up all the help they can find to mount a massive war against heaven.

And when they meet up with Judd and the other tribbles, I picture it playing out similar to the rich man and Lazarus story. Or if you want something with cruder language and a more upbeat, catchy tune...

That's what I'll believe until I die! [/yet another rant about Discontinuity]

Okay, now that I'm done with that rant, thought I'd bring up another question for discussion. In the past, I use to do polls, but I've since stopped because of a combination of laziness and the fact that no one but me seemed to be into them. But periodically when I read about the characters' sociopathic behavior, I find myself wondering whether this is worse than the Cavalcade of Assholery as depicted in the single digit books, where Judd, Lionel, and Vicki basically behave like complete assholes towards a twelve-year-old boy, whose parents are roasting on a spit in Hell for all eternity, because the almighty creator of the universe can't apply the brakes. There's always that question as to whether any of the actions the characters have done, has topped the Cavalcade, or if the Cavalcade set the gold standard for assholish behavior and will never be topped no matter how many books pass in this series.

BTW, when discussing assholish behavior, I deliberately leave out the Actions of Zod mostly because if I was to include him in the "Who is the Biggest Asshole in the LB-verse?" discussions, there wouldn't be any contest, because he trumps everybody. Even when Rayford patronizingly mansplains to Hattie about the wrongness of Abortion, he's still being less of an asshole than Zod.

So that's this week's post. Hope I've provided good fodder for discussions. I did read a chapter ahead and will report that maybe I won't have to ragedump or use the word "asshole" until it loses all meaning next week. But you never know. Until then, take care of yourself and each other.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Judd and Vicki. Together at Last. Woo...

Sorry, sorry guys about the late posting. A whole lot of stuff was going on last weekend. Would have posted yesterday, but lot of stuff going on that day as well. Since Slacktivist has kind slacked off on NRA snark, I guess it'll be okay if for this week, I post on Tuesday. Though I can't fault poor Fred too much for slacking in his snark: if I had to deal with Rayford patronizingly lecturing Hattie about abortion, I'd look for any excuse to get out of it as well. Say what you will about the For Kids! version and how many times I've rage-dumped over it, but if given the choice between the adult version and the kids (and the choice had better be between total annihilation of the Earth or read one of those series), I'd pick the kids series an infinite number of times before I'd ever choose the adults. It's basically a choice between, do you want to be kicked in the gut or do you want to be shanked in the gut then violated repeatedly, sort of choice.

Okay, now that the Cheryl subplot has been wrapped up with the kind of unsatisfying resolution we've come to expect from Ellanjay, let's see what we've got to deal with this week.

Okay, read ahead and from what I can tell, it's more dull and unmemorable than really bad. Maybe I'll finally be able to cut back on all the F-bombs. That's probably a good thing. I'm not opposed to profanity, but I do try to cut back, because if you use a word too much, it loses all power. What if the worst case scenario comes about, complete with the Four Horsemen coming right down the block? You don't want to have used up all the good words that adequately describe the situation you're in.*

As though anticipating all the times I've mentioned how Lionel has virtually disappeared from this series, the first section is told from his perspective. There's really not much to snark, just Lionel finally meeting up with Vicki's group (after being delayed by the writers' avarice bad traveling conditions brought about by the apocalypse) and wondering about how everyone's going to react to his missing arm.

Since, like I said, this first section gives me very little to snark about, I'm going to open the floor to widespread speculation. We all know that Lionel disappears for chapters at a time with very little mention as to what the hell he's doing. The question I'm going to ask is Why? And don't say "Bad Writing!" I want some creativity here. Is Lionel jaunting off into another, better-written dimension? Maybe he's one of the rulers of Narnia or a digi-destined, to name a few possibilities. I've also suggested that maybe Lionel is Judd's Tyler Durden or Harvey, but I want to hear some of your ideas. I love crazy fan theories. Anything to liven up this series.

Okay, Vicki and Janie have been cleaning out Cheryl's cabin and for all of those who complained about how very little compassion Our RTC Heroes were showing to a troubled girl who needed help (like me, for example), well I will give them some credit in that they do, however tentatively, mention that our heroes may have been :gasp: taken the wrong approach in dealing with Cheryl. It's not much, but you should know by now that I grasp at whatever crumbs of human decency I can find in these books.

Vicki and Janie had worked on Cheryl’s old cabin since Vicki had returned from her trip. Food wrappers littered 382 the floor. Clothes were thrown about, and Cheryl’s cot hadn’t been made for weeks. Though Marshall had assigned cabins and put at least two people in each (he said the partner system was best), Cheryl had stayed alone, which was fine with everyone else. But Cheryl’s solitary life had come with a price. Vicki wondered what might have happened if the girl had roomed with someone who could have helped her think through the situation with Ryan and the Fogartys.

Like I said, it's only tentative in its critique of Vicki's patronizing, at best, cruel and insensitive, at worst, attitude towards Cheryl, but I take what I can get. I will point out, though, that no one in this series has pointed out that something must have gone wrong in the arrangement between Cheryl and the Fogartys if Cheryl felt she couldn't just talk to them about wanting more involvement in her son's life. But I have a feeling that will never be brought up, now that Cheryl's safely on the bus.

Anyway, Vicki hears the commotion and hopes that Judd and to a lesser extent, Lionel, have finally arrived. Okay, they do make a point of saying that when Vicki sees Lionel, she immediately runs up and hugs him, but I still think she was probably more concerned about Judd. Because you know, in spite of the writers' assertions otherwise, that Vicki is primarily concerned about getting laid before God takes away sex for everyone. I suppose she could have just done the horizontal tango with one of the guys she's actually spent meaningful time with (like I said, it's only recently that Vicki and Judd were even on the same continent), but that's probably not going to happen. Even though, she could have just asked God for forgiveness after having premarital sex and by RTC logic, she'd be free and clear.

Yeah, there are so many problems with the abstinence-only approach to sex education (chief among them, that it doesn't work), but I can't help but think of all those RTC kids who manage to save it for marriage, only to be disappointed as hell on their wedding night, because your first time is rarely as magical as it's hyped up to be. I picture them going, "The hell?! This is what my pastor/parents made such a big deal about?"

Lionel takes her to Judd and the next section is told from Judd's perspective.

The first one to reach Judd after he stepped out of the car was Mark. There were no words, just hugs and slaps on the back. Judd and Mark had disagreed about a lot of things through the years, beginning with Mark’s involvement with the militia movement, but now all that seemed forgotten. They had both seen enough death and had been chased by the Global Community enough to know that any squabbles in the past were easily put aside.

At first my response to this paragraph was essentially: The hell?! Because as I recall, it had been several books since Judd and Mark exchanged a syllable with one another, but then I recalled in the books that correspond to book 2 of the adult series, there had been a bit of a fight because Mark wanted to join a militia and :gasp: do stuff to fight Nicky (violating the sacred ethos of doing nothing held by Tribbles everywhere) and Judd, being a good Tribble, was opposed to it. As you can guess, Mark wasn't as fortunate as Taylor and Hasina and did eventually come to accept that Judd, by virtue of being a Main Character, was right. But given that I'm fairly certain the series was still in the single-digits, you can't blame me for having almost forgotten about it entirely. Especially since it was never mentioned after it was resolved until now.

I'd browse TV Tropes in search of their term for this kind of writing, where rather than showing us the steps between A and Q, the writers' just shout "Q!" and hope we don't notice that they left out everything in between, but TV Tropes is enough of a time suck as is and I need to get back to the review. There is a reason that TV Tropes has a page entitled "TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life."

There's some chitchat and stalling, before the writers finally get Vicki and Judd together. Trust me, when I say that the following paragraph is way more accurate and entertaining if you read it with the idea that Judd's just desperate to get laid. Yeah, I overuse that joke, but they make it so damn easy!

Judd had never felt so focused. He knew everyone was watching, wondering what he would do, but he concentrated on the girl at the end of the path.
Vicki had changed since Judd had been gone, like the others, like he had. Her red hair was shorter, and Judd liked how it accented her face. She looked older, more mature.

"And by mature, I mean mature enough that sleeping with her won't count as Statutory." Judd then waggles his eyebrows and sprays on more Axe Body Spray aka the body spray choice of dudebros and insecure douchebags everywhere.

We also get further examples of Ellanjay's steadfast opposition to one of writing's sacred commandments "Show Don't Tell" as they tell us about how Judd has totally changed guys! They even mention Bruce "Dead and Useless" Barnes, though as I recall, nobody has given more than a passing thought, since they stuck him in the ground some time back in the single-digit books. We also get a mention of Ryan Daley aka that guy who will probably somehow remain a Butt Monkey even in death.

Anyway, if it sounds like I'm fast-forwarding through all this, like I said, I am. All that happens as the chapter draws to a close, is Vicki and Judd are happy to see each other again and Ellanjay continue to assert that Judd has totally changed, in the desperate hope of convincing the readers. Anything to get out of doing the actual work of showing how Judd's changed.

And that's all I'm going to give you for Tuesday. I know, kind of a skimpy snark, but I read ahead and the next chapter had a lot of material and there will definitely be a ragedump, so I hope you don't hold the skimpiness of this week's snark against me.

*Always found those who complain about bad language to be just a wee bit disingenuous. The whole thing involving the PG-13 rating where you only get one use of the F-bomb (and said use must not refer to the sexual act) is a prime example of the silliness involving profanity. Because apparently hearing the F-bomb more than once in a feature-length movie will irrevocably scar you for life.

I especially get mad when people complain about profanity usage in movies like Saving Private Ryan. When shit is blowing up all around you and your best friend is lying on the beach with his guts hanging out, I think you've earned the right to use whatever words you want! Unless they believe that everyone, whether they're a Victorian Lord or a street kid from Brooklyn, should use the same language no matter what the situation. Or in other words, the people in Saving Private Ryan should have turned to each other and said, "I say, old chap, this really steams my beans" as their friends blow up around them, lest they offend the RTCs in the audience. [/soapbox rant]